It is a very busy weekend in the world of mixed martial arts. The UFC and the IFL will be firing on all cylinders on Saturday night, while Pride’s event will make for an entertaining Sunday night.
The UFC and the IFL events are important, but Pride 34 will mark the end of an era in the sport of mma. Pride 33 “Kamikaze” will be the last Pride show before the Fertitta brothers take over the company, which will merge the two most dominate promotions in mixed martial arts. Pride and the UFC are expected to still remain separate promotions under one management, but the only competition between the two promotions will be in the ring or the octagon. It will be very interesting to see how the Feritta brothers, along with Dana White handle the superstars of both organizations and deal with having so much power over the growing sport of mma. Nevertheless, the cross promoting and the “Super Bowl of Mixed Martial Arts” promised twice a year, is something that has every fan excited.
Pride 34: “Kamikaze”
Pride 34 is a solid card, that is headlined by a main event between two of Pride Fighting Championships all time legends. If Pride had a “Hall of Fame”, Wanderlei Silva and Igor Vovchanchyn would most certainly be within the ranks. Pride 34, is not a card full of legends of Pride’s past and actually features an odd mixed of fighters. So it is only fitting that the final match in what will be known as “Old Pride” is between two fighters who have been with the organization since the beginning.
Main Event: Wanderlei Silva vs. Igor Vovchanchyn
Wanderlei Silva (31-7-1) made his Pride debut at Pride 7. Considered throughout his career to be one of the top three fighters at 205 pounds, has an impressive fight resume. However, in the recent months “The Axe Murderer” has been knocked out in his last two fights. His most recent loss at Pride 33 took place on February 24th. Dan Henderson leveled Silva, leaving him knocked out cold on the floor and without his middleweight title (205). Silva would have never been cleared to fight had this fight taken place in North America. However, he has received clearance from the Japanese doctors and will be stepping back into the ring.
Igor Vovchanchyn (45-9-1) was a dominate heavyweight in the Pride ranks, going all the way back to Pride 4. Vovchanchyn was the runner up in Pride’s inaugural Grand Prix in 2000. The once dominate heavyweight ran into younger, stronger, and more well-rounded fighters and took some losses before dropping down to 205. His drop in weight seemed to rob him of some of his power and he did not look like himself. Vovchanchyn is 1-2 at 205 and has not fought since August 28, 2005.
This is a showcase fight between two great legends of Pride. No matter what the outcome is, this is a perfect way to close the final chapter on the current Pride era. This fight is going to be competitive. Silva is still reeling from back to back losses and cannot afford another loss. Three straight losses will hurt “The Axe Murderer’s” stock as he is in negotiations for a new contract. Vovchanchyn has been inactive for two years and it will be interesting to see where his skills are at. The heavy handed Vovchanchyn does have knockout power and Silva probably is not fully recovered from the loss to Henderson in February. It is possible that Silva is rushing to fight too soon and could end up once again on his back wondering what happened. However, Wanderlei Silva will win this fight. He is going to be out for blood and wants to get back on the winning path. Vovchancyn is a great fighter, but the lay off could be too long. Silva by stoppage due to strikes with two minutes left in round one.
Ricardo Arona (13-4) will out wrestle and overwhelm new comer Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (3-1) to earn a ground and pound victory in round three.
Shinya Aoki (10-2) will showcase his submission skills and take out Brian Lo-A Njoe (3-5-3) with an armbar in round one.
Cage Rage veteran Zelg Galesic (6-1) has five wins by knockout and will get his sixth when he crushes Makoto Takimoto (2-3) with a huge right hand in round one.
In what is being deemed the first “UFC vs. Pride” match up, Jeff Monson (22-6) will grapple his way to a split decision over Kazuyuki Fujita (14-5) in a very close bout.
Mixed martial arts legend Don Frye (17-5-1) is 3-0 in his last three K-1 fights and will out brawl the English underachiever James Thompson (13-6) to a second round tko victory. Frye is a gamer and will break the will and the nose of an over aggressive Thompson.
Edson Drago (9-1) will improve to 10-1 when he earns a tko victory over Yoshihiro Nakao (5-1).
Bazigit Atajev (16-1) will knockout Gilbert Yvel (29-11-1) in round two.
Eric “Butterbean” Esch (9-3-1) is 350 and will take on Zuluzinho (2-2) who is 390 pounds. This will come down to striking and “Butterbean” will knockout Zuluzinho early in the first.
UFC 69: "Shootout"
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will be holding their 69th event on Saturday night in front of a packed house in the great state of Texas. The card in headlined by Georges St.Pierre defending his welterweight championship for the first time against Long Island native and Ultimate Fighter 4 winner Matt Serra. The welterweight championship match has people excited, but it is the welterweight clash between Diego Sanchez and rival Josh Koscheck that is going to be the fight of the night.
UFC Welterweight Championship Fight: Georges St.Pierre (Champion) vs. Matt Serra (Challenger)
Georges St.Pierre will enter the octagon on Saturday night with a mixed martial arts resume of 13-1. GSP’s most recent hit list reads like a who’s who of the worlds top 170 pound fighters. The Canadian has taken out Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, BJ Penn, and most recent Matt Hughes. St.Pierre has struggled with some injuries over the last year, but is ready to make his first title defense against Serra.
Matt Serra is a long time UFC veteran with a mixed martial arts record of 8-4. Serra won his title shot by defeating Chris Lytle by spilt decision to win the fourth season of the reality television series The Ultimate Fighter. Serra is a jiu-jitsu terror and is very dangerous on the ground to say the very least.
St.Pierre will be much larger and more athletic than Serra. GSP has looked dominate in his last outings and nothing in Serra’s bag of tricks is going to be able to stop world best fighter at 170 pounds. Serra is very tough, but the way St.Pierre has been fighting, it does not matter who he will be in the octagon against. St.Pierre wins by stoppage due to strikes, end of round one.
Diego Sanchez vs. Josh Koscheck
Diego Sanchez is 17-0 and has defeated the likes of Florian, Gassaway, Diaz, Alessio, Parisyan, and Riggs in the UFC’s welterweight division to become one of elite fighters in the world at 170 pounds.
Josh Koscheck is 8-1 in mixed martial arts and since losing to Drew Fickett has defeated Ansar Chalangov, Dave Menne, Jonathan Goulet, and Jeff Joslin.
This fight is going to be a three round war. If the fight goes the distance it will be Koscheck who will have his hand raised at the end. Koscheck’s takedowns are powerful, fast, and tough to stop. Sanchez must avoid Koscheck aggressive shots and keep this one on the feet. Koscheck showed glimpses of being a dominate ground fighter who could finish a fight when he destroyed Jonathan Goulet. However, Koscheck went back to just a smothering style with no chance of finishing the fight in his most recent match with Jeff Joslin. Koscheck must have that killer instinct if he wants to give Sanchez his first career loss.
Koscheck will take round one, but Sanchez will adjust to Koscheck’s takedown speed and is able to win rounds two and three on the feet. Sanchez will stay undefeated when he knockouts Koscheck midway through round three. A sloppy takedown attempt will allow Sanchez to pound Koscheck with a knee and follow up with strikes until the fight is stopped. Sanchez by knockout in round three.
Mike Swick (10-1) will knockout Yushin Okami (19-3) in round two. The fight will be a very interesting stand up battle, with Swick landing the winning combination.
Ultimate Fighter Season 3 favorite Kendall Grove (7-3) will suffer his first loss in the UFC octagon when he is stopped by Alan Belcher (9-1). Belcher is a tough, hard nose fighter who is one of the few fighters in the UFC’s 185 pound division will not be dwarfed by the 6’6 Grove. This will be an exciting fight, but Belcher will pound out Grove for the win heavy strikes, to earn a tko victory in round three.
Roger Huerta (16-1-1) will make short work of Leonard Garcia (9-1), rendering Garcia unconscious with a right hand in round one.
Brad Imes (5-2) will out strike and out work one time Pride star Heath Herring (26-12). Imes has been constantly improving, whereas Herring seems to be on the decline. Herring’s performance and striking ability is a huge hole in his game and Imes will be able to capitalize. Imes by decision.
Thales Leites (9-1) will submit Pete Sell (7-2) with a guillotine choke midway through round two.
Luke Cummo (4-4) will earn a decision victory over Josh Haynes (7-7).
Marcus Davis (10-3) will submit Pete Spratt (15-7) with a rear naked choke in round two.
International Fight League (IFL) in Moline, Illinois
Superfight: Jeff “Big Frog” Curran (25-8-1) takes on Kevin English (9-3). Curran has 16 wins by submission and English has eight wins by submission. This should be an entertaining contest, and Curran will earn himself the win via an armbar in round two.
Reno Lions (Team 1-0, Matches 3-2) vs. Quad Cities Silverbacks (Team 0-1, Matches 2-3)
155- Lion’s John Gunderson (11-4) will upset Silverbacks’ Bart Palaszewski (25-8) with a spilt decision victory.
170- Lion’s Pat Healy (17-11) will grind out a decision victory with a heavy dose of takedowns and ground and pound to defeat the Silverbacks’ Rory Markham (10-2).
185- Lion’s Dan Molina (6-6) will submit the Silverbacks’ Ryan McGivern (9-4) with a guillotine choke in round two.
205- In a very boring fight, Lion’s Vernon "Tiger" White will lose by decision to the Silverback’s new 205 pounder Sam Hoger (6-3).
Heavyweight- Lion’s Roy Nelson (7-0) will have his undefeated streak snapped at the big powerful hands of the Silverbacks’ Ben Rothwell (21-5).
Team Win-Reno Lions
Chicago Redbears (Team 0-1, Matches 1-4 ) verse Seattle Tigersharks (Team 0-1, Matches 2-3)
155- Redbears’ Mike Corey (6-1) will get dropped and pounded out in round one by Tigersharks’ Shad Lierley(1-0).
170- Redbears’ Mike Miller (5-2) will submit the Tigersharks’ Brad Blackburn (9-8) with an armbar in round two.
185- Redbears’ Chris Albandia (5-4) will get a first round stoppage victory over the Tigersharks’ Bristol Marunde (2-4).
205- Redbears’ Homer Moore will not be able to hang with Pride veteran and Tigershark 205 pounder, Allan Goes (9-4-2). Goes will get a stoppage due to strikes in round two.
Heavyweight- Reese Andy of the Tigersharks will improve to 6-1, when he earns a hard fought decision victory over the Redbears’ Adam Maciejewski (5-2).
Team Win- Seattle TigerSharks